Appealing for patience and perseverance from environmental activists, President Barack Obama claimed progress Wednesday in his second-term drive to combat climate change but said more must be done to address a generational problem.
One year after unveiling an aggressive plan, Obama highlighted emissions limits on power plants, expanded renewable energy projects and new incentives for green technology as steps he said have built momentum in the U.S. and abroad, despite steadfast opposition from much of Congress.
"We're moving, and it's making a difference," Obama said. "It's not instantaneous. We've got to sometimes cut these things into pieces."
Obama's remarks at an annual dinner for the League of Conservation Voters marked a progress report for his climate plan, which the president laid out with much fanfare at a speech last June at Georgetown University.
The U.S. must do more, Obama said, to deal with what he deemed a "generational issue." But the president also said that small steps the U.S. has taken, when added up, have a broader impact.
"When you take those first steps, even if they're hard, and even if there are politics sometimes, you start building momentum and you start mobilizing larger and larger communities," Obama said. "Every step makes a difference."
es. Still, the limits have drawn major opposition from Republicans and some Democrats and will face legal challenges that could threaten their durability.
"The president has no more elections to win, yet he allows the narrow interests of his most extreme political allies to dictate an agenda that puts jobs and opportunity out of reach," said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Obama has also started the clock on carbon limits for new power plants, although the low cost of cleaner-burning natural gas means few new coal-fired plants will be built in the U.S. anyway.
Obama's administration has approved 10 new renewable energy projects on public lands, but is less than halfway toward its goal of increasing solar, wind and geothermal output by 8,100 megawatts. The administration has also proposed nine new standards for energy efficiency and finalized eight others, seeking to curb emissions from appliances and other equipment.
Yet on the international front, momentum has been elusive. Ahead of global climate talks next year in Paris, there are fresh signs that countries like Australia are prodding Canada and others to resist global moves to curb carbon. That could dissuade even bigger polluters, like China, from acting.
"When it comes to what are the actions they're going to take at home to cut carbon, I think they're really well on their way," said Heather Zichal, who spearheaded Obama's climate plan as his former environmental adviser. "The question is, What degree of success will the administration have in bringing other countries to the table?"
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